Shane Byrne has set the standard in the first free practice at the MCE British Superbike season finale in damp conditions with title leader Leon Haslam only 14th fastest.

The defending BSB champion Byrne topped the opening practice with a late flying lap of 1m 26.123s to go within one second of the outright lap record as the session was run in drying conditions. The Be Wiser Ducati rider claimed a dominant double at the Brands Hatch GP circuit earlier in the season and will require similar results to overturn the points deficit to leader Haslam.

Haslam took a conservative approach to FP1 and during his final laps he was held up in BSB traffic which meant his fastest lap stood at 1m 27.533s that left him 14th. Haslam leads the BSB standings by 32 points from Josh Brookes, who ended the session third fastest, with Byrne one point further back.

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BSB Showdown contender Jake Dixon ended the session second fastest for RAF Reserves Kawasaki ahead of Brookes and fellow top six title rivals Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Jason O’Halloran (Honda).

Richard Cooper, who is filling in for the injured Taylor Mackenzie at Bennetts Suzuki, started strongly in sixth ahead of Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon and Lloyd & Jones PR Racing BMW’s Jakub Smrz.

Assen race two winner Sylvain Guintoli grabbed ninth as Dan Linfoot rounded out the top ten in a relatively low-key session.